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Old 03-10-2011, 04:00 AM   #1
Stump OP
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: East London, UK.
Oddometer: 10
Stump's DR350 - Morocco Prep Questions


New member, although very long time lurker (always seemed to find the info I needed without asking questions). I'm starting this thread to hopefully tap into some collective DR350 wisdom, and because I find the format of the DR350 Thread hard to follow.

I've had my '92 DR350SN for around 18 months, bought as a non-runner for £100 (that's not a typo). Fresh petrol, carb clean, (plus a lot of kicking) and it burst into life. Been riding the snot out of it since. Absolutely love it.

Mods I have carried out include, Acerbis tank (with homemade mounting kit), Maier rear fender, LED rear light, replaced stock headlight, UFO front fender, re-covered seat, new tyres (does this count?). Had a BMW pannier rack modified to fit. Found a stock exhaust to replace the loud DEP one. Bar risers and bark busters, heated grips. Also managed to find a bargain pair of 17" wheels.

Mods carried out before I owned the bike. 385cc Wiesco piston, airbox mod. Wider pegs. Fork conversion of unknown origin, which is where the questions begin.

Here are a couple of pictures of before, during and after the work.

The day I bought it home.


Trip to Wales.

Claerwen Reservoir

Mountain Goat

DR Taking a Break

Woods setup.


Supermoto setup.


Also, a link to a video I recently made with my GoPro if anyone's interested. This is typical of the sort of riding the DR and I, try and do as much as possible of.

Anyway, in 5 weeks, I'm leaving the UK to travel to Morocco for the best part of a month. I'm pretty much prepared, with paperwork, tickets etc. all sorted. But I've not really done much in the way of preparing the DR for the big trip. And it's on this subject that I'd like to pick your brains….

Which maintenance tasks would you definitely do before a potential 3000 mile trip? The bike runs so well at the moment I am hesitant to tear into it too far, and potentially (probably) balls something up. So far I was just planning on; checking the valve clearances, new plug, replacing the wheel bearings with new ones, lube/replace cables, greasing the rear linkages, replacing the fork seals and oil, new brake pads, and of course fresh oil and filter.

I considered taking off the head and checking out the condition of the cam journals, rockers etc. I then realised that as it's a 385cc it would require a new gasket specific to this bore. Is this correct? Or can a standard head gasket be modified to work?

The bike uses a little bit of oil, but only when cruising at motorway speeds for a long time, and even then, it isn't a great deal. I'm guessing that this is most likely to be valve seals and/or piston rings? It still pulls strong though, so doesn't seem to be down on compression. In your opinions, should this be something I get seen to, before my trip?

On the subject of fork seals, I only want to order one correct set. Can anybody help identify for sure what the donor bike for the forks is/was? Looking at the micro-fiche's of several bikes, I'm leaning towards …..

I'm lucky to have, with the DR, a notebook belonging to the first owner, documenting every single bit of maintenance ever carried out on it for the first 6 years of its life. I mean everything. Tyre pressures on the day it rolled out of the showroom, diagrams of the correct way to reassemble things, valve clearances, literally everything. Interestingly though, it mentions things I had been worried about tackling myself, such as back-spacing the clutch, the infamous shift-drum bolt etc. What I'm trying to say is I know that the bike has been very well looked after.

Sorry if this is a lot of information/questions to be asking in a first post, but I'm just really trying to find out:

a) whether I am foolish to trust a 19 year old bike to stay in one piece from here to Morocco and back? (Don't answer this one)

b) is there anything I haven't considered that could potentially shaft me further down the line.

c) what would you definitely do maintenance-wise before setting off?

d) what are the forks from, as there seems to be loads of similar ones!

Anything that I don't think I'll be able to achieve by myself, I will be able to take to my bike mechanic friend, so know worries there.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts/advice.


p.s. I'm also entering my first Hare & Hounds race in 2 weeks. Is this a silly idea on a bike that is supposed to take me to Africa three weeks later? Who cares! :-)
It's the things you don't do in life that you regret.
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:28 AM   #2
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In light of the recent problems in that area of the world, good luck. And, I really do mean that.

As to the bike. Has the swingarm been braced? The DR swingarms with the glue and rivets have been known to fail under hard applications. It was a common wisdom years ago to have the joint welded together and then braced. It takes a good and skilled welder who is familiar with aluminum, but it's not very difficult to do. Also, I'd consider running fork skins on the forks to protect the seals whilst on your adventure.
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:34 AM   #3
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You've pretty much covered the things I would be concerned about. Do not need to remove the head to check the cam, rockers and journals but you will need to reseal the cam cover with an appropriate product (I used permatex Ultra blue.) Also replace brake fluid - I'm assuming you would probably be doing it but had not added it to the list.

Give the oil lines and breather hose a good inspection for chafing, splits or other signs of imminent demise. Add a fuel filter if you can.

Good luck! Post a ride report and link to it in the DR350 thread
MSF Ridercoach IBA: 35353 95 R1100GSA, 93 GTS1000, 85 R80RT, 93 DR350/435, 99 RX125, 78 DT100
January 2010 New Zealand South Island ride
Summer 2009 UK to Alps ride
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:45 AM   #4
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You yank the kickstand safety switch yet? Those have been known to strand a few. A spare clutch cable wouldn't hurt to have. Bring some JB Weld for in the event you happen to crack a cover.
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:30 AM   #5
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I think its actually quite a sensible bike for the trip - they will rarely leave you stranded.

I'd second the idea about the kick stand switch. The only issues I've had with DRs over the years really have been switches and wiring. I'd go ahead and bypass the kick stand and clutch switches. Also if it has a keyed ignition be aware that the key switch itself isn't the most roubst thing and can fail. Otherwise not much goes wrong.

I'd also put on new cables for sure and bring spare clutch and throttle cables (you can go ahead and route them now so all you have to do is hook them up later).

The plastic fork guards look a lot like the ones Kawasaki used in the early 1990s, but I can't be sure other mfg's didn't use similar ons.

For seals you don't need to know exactly what bike they came off of though. What you need to do is measure the diamater of the chrome slider. Its probably 43mm. Then look around and see if they say Showa or KYB/Kayaba on them somewhere. I'm pretty sure all 43mm inverted showas take the same seal, dito for 43mm kybs and I think you can even put showa 43mm seals in kybs and vice versa but haven't tried that one myself.

I've had the best luck with oem honda seals and have used those in various brand bikes with 43mm showa forks.

I'd probably leave the head and all that alone.

good luck and have fun!
'09 Buell XB12XT, TL1000S, H1F, M620, CR250R, KX100, XR650R, Cota 315R

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Old 03-10-2011, 11:05 AM   #6
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Might want want to try to find a manual cam chain tesioner, or at least ckeck how much adjustment you auto tensioner has left, and make sure it is working properly.
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for the prompt replies! I really appreciate it.

Kawidad, thanks for your concern regarding my/our safety. Despite the current political situation in the rest of North Africa, from what I can gather, Morocco is still business as usual. Plus, after living in East London for 4 years now, I'm pretty sure I'm going to feel safer if anything!

Regarding bracing the swingarm, I'm sure I saw a thread where someone (Pablo?) was trying to do this but was having difficulties with the weld getting contaminated by the adhesive? To be honest, I don't think I ride hard enough to justify the risk of possibly wrecking the swingarm by having it welded. Thanks for the idea though, on my return I might get a spare and see if I can have that one braced.

Fork skins. Good idea, they've gone on the shopping list.

Slartibartfast, good to know that I don't need to remove the head to check the cam etc. Cheers for the reminder about brake fluid too. Changed it fairly recently, but pretty sure it'll take a battering in the desert etc!

Forgot about the screen in the oil line, need to give that a check. Which breather hose is it that you are referring to? Fuel filter, check.

Don't worry about the ride report, I definitely plan on doing one. That's where the GoPro comes in!


SeaBass, JB Weld is a very good idea now that you mention it. Especially when I think of how rocky those Moroccan pistes are going to be! Thanks man.

Kickstand and clutch safety switches have already been taken care of.

BikePilot, thanks for the vote of confidence regarding the choice of bike. I know you've done a lot of miles on DRs, and value your opinion. I honestly don't find it too uncomfortable to ride for long distances, I don't even mind the seat, if my ass starts hurting, I just stand up for a bit! (Not sure I'll be saying this after 3000 miles!)

I've read in my bike's notebook about the ignition switch failing before, I think I'll leave it as it is for now, but as you said, be aware to not overlook it as a cause of the bike not running, if the situation arises. Thanks for the head-up.

Clutch cable has been ordered. Learnt that lesson the hard way last summer, whilst boarding the Channel tunnel train to France at 5am! Good tip on routing the spare along the one currently being used.

Also, that's brilliant news regarding the fork seals. That single bit of information has saved me, probably hours, of stressing and trying to decipher which bike they came from. Now I just need to see if I can find whether they are Showa or KYBs. I definitely remember seeing a Suzuki sticker on them somewhere, if that makes a difference? I have a closer photo here…


Without knowing exactly what they are, I'm assuming that I'll have to guess the quantity of oil to replace. Should I just measure how much comes out and use that figure as a starting point, or is there a rule of thumb that'll get me close enough?

Re the cam chain tensioner, does the head need to be remove to gain access to it?

Thanks again for taking the time to help me out.
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:01 PM   #8
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Here in the UK, DRs aren't particularly common. So finding certain aftermarket parts is pretty difficult. Side pannier racks are one such product. Thought I'd just show what I had fabricated at a locate metalworker's.



Started life as a rack for an old BMW airhead. The guys who did the work for me usually make railings and gates etc. Believe me, this sucker is strong! I had a bit of a wipe-out on the road on Sunday (don't ask), absolutely smacked the rack into the tarmac, and it didn't bend one little bit. Reckon the bike frame will bend before this does!

Trial fitted the panniers I plan on using, Ortlieb Back Roller Classics. They fit perfectly. I'll be using these in combination with an Ortlieb Rack Pack, and a Wolfman Enduro Tankbag.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:47 PM   #9
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Cam Chain Tensioner

No need to open her up to get to the cam chain tensioner. It is the little wossname located on the lower right rear of the jug under the oil line. You should probably look up the proper procedure on here but as far as I know to remove it you set the piston to TDC on the compression stroke then remove the two bolts holding the tensioner in place. You have to remove the oil line first and some recommend removing the header but it can be done without. If you do decide to remove it you will need a new gasket for it. The bolt head on the center of the tensioner is just a cover so don't try to tighten that. If you just want to make sure that it is tight you can remove that cap and manually turn the screw release inside the tensioner. Like I said, look up the full procedure cause I'm no expert.
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Old 03-10-2011, 04:58 PM   #10
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Get a bigger back light mate, I know you probably dont plan on riding at night, but you will be caught out. The driving standards in marocco can be interesting to say the least and you want to know people have seen you. maybe some bigger indicators too.
It's a fanstastic place and so accessable even for us from the uk. Maybe consider the ferry to bilbao or santandaer to save doing you and the dr the shitty trip through france if you've not got the ticket already.
Take spare cables, chainlinks and brake pads. We had a big issue with pads after a rainstorm turned the piste roads into grinding paste and ate our pads. Consider taking a spare coil and cdi.
Fuel filter a very good idea, also take some things to trade... oldish cheapy phones (like k800 ericson) were in demand and dont take much room up.

Have fun and be careful, there's no air ambulance out there mate
current rides: tiger 200 and cb200 scrambler in indo
90 yamaha xtz750 super tenere, 98 honda vtr 1000 firestorm in the uk
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:33 PM   #11
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If the shock on the DR is serviceable maybe give that a birthday.

If you are worried about the cam etc, just look back at the valve clearance check records you have, any wear in these parts will likely show up as variations in the clearances, if everything is pretty constant from 1 check to the next then chances are all the valve mechanism is happy.

Have fun.

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Old 03-10-2011, 06:04 PM   #12
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I am sure if you tend to the basics, the bike will do fine and you will have a great time.
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:15 AM   #13
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Absolutely quality advice guys. Thanks so much! Currently swapping out the leaking fork seals... Easier typed than done! Kind of wishing I'd bought a seal driver now.

clintnz - didn't consider the history of the clearances, makes sense, good shout. Will also tackle the shock next weekend, if I can find somewhere to refill it with nitrogen...

jessepitt - will definitely be checking the CCT

elnota - Will be taking pads, cables etc. My friends that I am going with were reluctant to take spare pads. Your story has convinced them otherwise.. Cheers!
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:05 PM   #14
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For the forks, suzuki mostly uses showa.

The diamater of the chromed tube will help narrow things down. When you take them apart see if they are of a dual chamber or open bath design. If dual chamber you'll be able to figure out what bike they came from based on that and the diamater of the tubes.

If its open bath its either 1992 or older or not from an RM.

Once things are narrowed down a bit more on the forks it shouldn't be too hard to figure out how much oil to put back in. You can measure what came out, but there's no way of telling that it had the right amount in there. Also, when you re-fill if its an open bath fork you'll have to fill the fork all the way up with oil, bleed the cartridge and suck the level down to the specified amount (oil is measured in mm from the top of the fork tube rather than by volume on open bath forks).
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:07 PM   #15
Dakar Dan
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G'day Stump. Great choice of bike and destination. Sounds like you're pretty well prepared. I travelled through Morocco on a shoestring budget (no bike, unfortunately) soon after the first Gulf War. Plenty of tut-tutting and advice to reconsider was given to me prior but I found the people remarkably hospitable in general and never felt that my personal safety was ever at threat. The mountains and desert are spectacular. Have you formed a loose plan of where to visit?

As for bike prep: maybe a slightly higher viscosity oil would help the consumption issue at speed, as the daytime temperatures will be getting reasonably high. I would recommend an alloy bashplate to protect your sump also, as some of the hammada pre-desert sections will be very rocky. Riding in sand is an acquired and practised skill, ease yourself into it.

Looking forward to a RR!
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